Denominational Identity

 I’m not entirely comfortable with the term “the Reformed Faith.”  I cherish, teach, and defend Reformation truths, but I don’t use the term “the Reformed Faith.”  In my experiences, this term has not been employed very well.  I like how Mike Horton explains this topic.

“Although we do not have a God’s-eye perspective, we do belong to a community that is defined by the inbreaking of the age to come that relativizes all times and places, putting in jeopardy all of our cherished locations in this age.  It even challenges our tendency to find our ultimate identity in our own denomination or tradition.  While vigilant to uncover our own prejudices that work against it, we strive toward a catholic hearing of God’s Word.  From this perspective we should not speak of a Reformed faith or an Orthodox theology or a Lutheran confession, but of a Christian faith, theology, and confession, from a Reformed, Orthodox, or Lutheran perspective.”

Michael Horton, People and Place (Lousiville: WJK, 2008), 210.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

4 thoughts on “Denominational Identity”

  1. Oh man – very nice. I am so disappointed that my copy sits so un-cracked (or only relatively cracked) on my shelves … this will have to be part of my summer reading!

    I’ve been working HARD these last few months to expunge my vocabulary of the term “Reformed FAITH” and like you say, have been working toward saying “Reformed TRADITION” or something of the like. It’s a hard habit to kick!


  2. This point of Horton’s has always stuck with me as well (it seems to go well with another Hortonism, “We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone…not by our doctrine”). And since, it has seemed better to refer to the “Reformed tradition” when tempted to the “Reformed faith.” The latter seems to hastily monopolize faith, while the former seems a more appropriately cautious expression.

    That said, the Reformed tradition, as ever, remains the superior expression of Christianity on the good earth.


  3. Thanks for the tidbit, Shane.

    I’ve always been uncomfortable with the term as well, partly for the reason Horton notes, partly because I want to have a biblical faith. To put it another way, I am Reformed because I believe that is most biblical. If I can be shown that something that is truly, historically Reformed is unbiblical, in theory I would side with Scripture.

    As yet, however, the Reformed seemed to have known their Bibles better than most who walk the earth today. The dilemma of “Reformed vs. Biblical” therefore is in my experience so far, merely a theoretical possibility. :)


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